The Ride to Conquer Cancer is now just a few days away! At some ungodly time on Saturday morning I will be off and pedalling on the first of two consecutive 130 km days! Erm, yay?
The last few weeks have felt much like the run-up to exams at high school and in university. But instead of comparing how much revision everyone's done, we're all discussing how many kilometres we've done on our training rides.
Now, if there's one thing I have ever truly excelled at in my life, it's passing exams. I was really, really good at it. But I worked my arse off for it, putting in hours and hours of revision. Probably too many hours; I think I was the only one of my high school friends whose parents (teachers both) told me to study less, rather than more. The problem was that no matter how much I did, I still felt underprepared.
And so it is with this ride. I lost two weekends due to my parents being here, and us all going out of town together - and because I've done less training than I'd originally planned, I feel completely underprepared, underconfident, and overintimidated.
People have tried to reassure me - Ironman triathlete Mermaid (my training guru) in particular has been awesome, and even encouraged me to "taper" this past weekend by keeping up the intensity but reducing the distance. I felt really blah this weekend (I had a slightly upset stomach and a slight temperature from Friday lunchtime until Monday morning), but I did manage to get 55 km in before the England game on Saturday. (I knew I wasn't well when I couldn't even finish one pint during the game). On Sunday I just could not work up the energy, so I cleaned and tuned my bike* instead of riding it. I'd originally planned to do at least 100 km on Saturday and then another 60-70 on Sunday, but Mermaid made me feel better about my failings by saying that long rides this close to the event wouldn't help my muscle tone or cardio, and might just get me injured!
Mermaid and others have also pointed out that most (i.e. all but one) of my long training rides were done by myself, and that the distance feels easier when you're part of an event and surrounded by other people. The ride's supposed to be really fun, positive and social, and I'm really looking forward to that aspect of it.
Other people have tried to reassure me, too. Someone told me that they know a woman who did last year's ride on a folding bicycle. I know who this person is (but don't know her well), and she's not the fittest-looking person in the world, so that did help. Also, I work with a PI who will be riding for the second time, and when he heard I'd done one 95 km ride, he said "you can stop worrying. You've got it".
But still my brain cries "but that was only one day**! I have to do 130 km! Two days in a row! I caaaaaaaaan't dooooooo iiiiiiiiiiit!!!!"
I'm trying to remind myself that I always did well in exams, even when I felt like this. But of course it's different; I'm used to mental exertion, but have never done anything this physical before. I have nothing with which to compare my current level of fitness and readiness.
Despite the differences between mental and physical training, I'm hoping that the familiar "this is what I prepared for so I'm just gonna do it" exam day feeling will kick in once I get my feet moving on Saturday morning!
I'm also going to carry with me a list of everyone who's donated to my campaign, to look at for inspiration if I get tired. I am ridiculously grateful to everyone who contributed, and I'll be thinking of you all often.
*to the best of my ability. It's in getting a thorough professional tune-up at the moment.
**I did 38km the day before, too, but that kind of distance barely feels like a training ride any more. Which I guess is a good thing.